In light of rampant rumors that Taichung City Hall will soon abolish the one-stop childcare subsidy policy evoking panic among parents, Taichung City Hall has issued an official statement that childcare subsidy is the ideal solution to mitigating low birth rate, therefore the policy will remain in effect, and instead of abolishing the policy, it will be extended and upgraded. In supporting the central government's quasi-public childcare policy, which is to be promulgated in August, as long as the central government's subsidies are superior to the existing subsidies offered by Taichung, the central government's subsidy standards will be applied, and if Taichung's subsidies are better than the central government's subsidies, Taichung's subsidies will take precedence, thereby providing the citizens with more subsidies.
According to the Education Bureau, when the central government's quasi-public childcare policy is implemented on August 1, it will be applicable to the 6 largest cities in the country. Childcare subsidies for children aged between 2 and 4 will be increased, where those in public kindergartens, nonprofit kindergartens, and quasi-public kindergartens pay at the most an additional NT$2,500, NT$3,500 and NT$4,500 per month respectively, and the balance will be funded by the government. For children from low to mid-income households, they can attend kindergartens for free; those not attending public, non-profit or quasi-public kindergartens will receive NT$2,500 childcare subsidy every month.
In light of the promulgation of the central government's quasi-public childcare policy, Mayor Shiow-yen Liu immediately increased the budget by NT$850 million to upgrade, improve, and add value to the existing one-stop childcare policy. After the new policy is implemented in August, the parents' benefits will not be affected, because the most favorable policy will be adopted, be it from the central government or Taichung City Hall, so as to offer Taichung citizens a comprehensive care package.
The Education Bureau pointed out that the original one-stop nursing policy did not provide adequate subsidy for kindergarteners aged between 2 and 4, therefore the central government’s new system will be adopted in the future, providing NT$30,000 childcare subsidy every year. The existing one-stop childcare policy subsidizes the disadvantaged group up to NT$30,000 per person per year, something which is lacking in the central government’s new system. However, the city hall will continue to offer this subsidy to ensure the welfare of Taichung citizens.
The Department of Social Welfare explained that in addition to the monthly quasi-public subsidy of NT$6,000 for children between the ages of 0 and 2, children raised at home or looked after by their grandparents may receive NT$2,500 childcare subsidy every month without the need to go to school. In addition, children aged between 2 and 6 who are going to quasi-public kindergartens in Taichung will still receive NT$3,000 subsidy per month. Taichung is the only municipality in Taiwan offering such subsidy.
As for the rumor that the city hall will soon terminate the NT$2,500 monthly childcare subsidy for children aged 2 to 6 and the NT$3,000 flat-rate subsidy on August 1, the Department of Social Welfare commented that the details were part of previous administration’s unconfirmed promotional material. Since the promotional material is in conflict with the central government’s quasi-public policy, therefore it was never and will never be implemented. According to the central government, as of August 1, local municipalities may not provide additional subsidies on top of the NT$3,000 monthly subsidy given to children aged between 2 and 6, and any violation will be subjected to financial discipline. Consequently, Taichung City Hall is unable to offer additional subsidies. Mayor Shiow-yen Liu has never proposed the policy of NT$2,500 monthly childcare subsidy and the NT$3,000 flat-rate subsidy.
Furthermore, since Mayor Lu came into office, she vigorously promoted the “Increasing the Number of Public Day Care Centers and Kindergartens” program. According to the Department of Social Welfare, in addition to public daycare centers in Taiping, Shalu, Fengyuan, Qingshui, and Pinglin, 3 more public daycare centers will be opened in Dali, Jiaxing, and Wufeng. Next year, a public daycare center will also be established in Daya, Nantun, and Xitun, and one will be opened in Wuri in 2 years’ time. By 2022, 7 social housing public daycare centers and 4 small-scale public daycare centers will be completed, bringing the total number of public daycare centers in Taichung to 23.
In regards to the Increasing the Number of Public Day Care Centers and Kindergartens program, the Education Bureau elaborated that 90 public kindergarten classes were created during 2015 and 2018. After Mayor Lu came into office, 41 public and non-profit kindergarten classes were created in 2019, taking in an additional 1,151 children. Furthermore, from 2019 to 2022, the aim is to increase the number of classes by at least 180 in order to increase the number of children receiving flat rate educare to 5,400 and achieve the objective of Increasing the Number of Public Day Care Centers and Kindergartens.